US policies procedures on pot at the border wont budge with legalization

first_imgWASHINGTON – The party stops at the 49th parallel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials warned Tuesday as they issued a pointed reminder that the possession of marijuana will remain illegal under American federal law, even after it becomes legal in Canada.Policies and practices won’t change as a result of legalization, and U.S. border guards will continue to have plenty of latitude to determine whether someone’s history of drug use or involvement in the industry should disqualify them from entering the United States.“Our officers have broad discretion at the border to question travellers as to their purpose and their intent, to make the determination as to their admissibility,” said Todd Owen, executive assistant commissioner in the agency’s Office of Field Operations.“We’re hoping that by the word getting out, we’ll have people make proper choices before they choose to cross the border. But our security protocols (Wednesday) will be reflective of what they are today.”As of Wednesday, Canada will be the first G7 member to greenlight legal recreational pot — a move Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has justified as an effort to better protect young people from the drug’s effects and eliminate the influence of organized crime.A person’s admissibility to the U.S. depends on a wide array of factors, including whether a border guard has reason to believe that someone who admits to consuming pot in Canada has plans to continue to do so after they’ve crossed the border, Owen said.As a result, Tuesday’s conference-call briefing with officials — billed as a reiteration of existing laws, policies and procedures to help educate Canadian travellers about what to expect at the border — provided little additional clarity.Last week, the agency did tweak its stated policy for Canadians who work or invest in the legal pot industry, saying that such travellers ought to be allowed over the border provided their trip is unrelated to their work.Those same travellers would not be allowed in if the purpose of their travel was related to the industry, said Todd Hoffman, executive director for admissibility and passenger programs in the Office of Field Operations.In addition to the purpose of the trip, a lot depends on the extent to which an investor in the marijuana industry is aware of and engaged in their invesments, Hoffman added.“If a Canadian is knowingly engaged and has knowingly invested in the marijuana industry, and is going to the U.S. for that specific purpose, to facilitate the industry, then they would be found inadmissible,” he said.“However, if a Canadian is working or engaged in the legalized business in Caanda and they’re coming to the United States for a different intent — to go shopping or do some other recreational activity not related to the industry — then they could be found admissible.“So it really depends on the knowledge of the investment or the engagement in the industry.”And any Canadian with a past conviction for a marijuana offence will remain unable to legally cross the border — even if they receive a pardon from the federal government.“We don’t recognize the Canadian amnesty,” Owen said. “If you’ve been subject to a violation of U.S. laws, that will still make you inadmissible into our country.”The federal Liberal government has been under pressure to establish some sort of amnesty mechanism for Canadians convicted in the past of pot offences.Officials are now talking about allowing them to fill out a simple form to speed up the pardon process, similar to an existing system for people convicted under outdated laws, such as for engaging in consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners.“We’ll be talking about that in the coming days and weeks,” Trudeau said Tuesday before heading into a cabinet meeting.last_img

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